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It clings to the surface of our Earth, bravely hanging on in tiny crevasse and little nooks on the Canadian shield. It lies deep and rich on the prairies and hides under our feet in the forests. It’s the corner-stone for all terrestrial ecosystems, our topsoil.

Two percent of the worlds topsoil is lost every year due to erosion and pollution. This thin brown line is one of the few places where plants can grow, almost everything we depend on for sustenance depends in turn on healthy topsoil. It’s not just a building block for life, it’s the foundation of the entire pyramid. It can take 500 years to build one inch of topsoil and just one big rain storm to destroy it.

We take out soil for granted and few understand the implications of its loss. Modern agricultural practices actually promote the destruction of this valuable resource. Chemical fertilizers and yearly tilling do not allow for regeneration. The chemicals slowly poison the living organisms that bind and build our soil. Yearly crop rotation may sound good but does nothing to replenish lost nutrients.

What can I do to protect my top soil, you may ask. I’m not a farmer.

Small changes in your daily habits can make a huge difference; start a compost. You can build your own soil! Take a stand at the grocery store, insist on products produced organically. Learn who’s growing what in your area, do a little research and discover where your food is really coming from. Employ a 3R lifestyle, reduce, reuse and recycle.

We can afford the luxury of treating our soil like dirt no longer for none among us can wait 500 years for that next spring planting.

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